A Travellerspoint blog

March 2018

Another Dubai

Yesterday I checked out of the At the Top Hostel, because the hostel was sold out for the following nights. I decided to leave my bags there and look for the new hostel, which was two metro stops away. I got out of the metro, and couldn't find the place. I tried following the directions-somewhere near a big hotel called the Rotunda, but couldn't find the Rotunda. So I wandered around aimlessly, and got back on the metro to go back to the Dubai mall. Part of buying the sightseeing ticket on the hop-on hop-off bus involved a free walking tour. I enjoy walking tours, because I can learn about a particular country.

The tour wasn't until 2:30-it was now about 11:00, so I sat in the mall and enjoyed a frozen cappuccino, at some coffee place-(my feet we're killing me-as I mentioned the walk from the metro to the mall was about 2 miles (it seemed like).

After that, I took the metro to the point for the hop-on hop-off bus, where the walking tour would begin, and I met Benjamin, the tour guide. He took me on the two hour tour (yup-only myself and the tour guide for the free walking tour).

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He told me some stuff I didn't know.
- The Emirati we're originally Bedouins, so they roamed around the desert
- Some broke off and decided to settle along the river.
- I saw artists diagrams in the old town, how the oysters we're harvested and turned into pearls.
- We saw the gold souks and spice souks, and gold and spice from the middle east was traded for the pearls.
- I also learned how Dubai wasn't selling it's oil at that point, but was waiting for the price to increase.
- There was a 24 karat gold ring on display in the golf souk. (Because it's a Bruno Mars song-I know that's huge).

It was an interesting tour. After that, I had lunch/dinner at an all you can eat buffet and went back to the Dubai mall, to view the water show at the fountain, which was spectacular. The water danced 100 feet high to songs like "I will Always Love you", and then the STUNNING light show off the Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest building, which I went on a few days ago)

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Posted by DavidPearlman 19:45 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Safari finally

Yesterday was the day to go on the safari, and i wasn't going to miss it for the second day in a row. The van to the safari wasn't due to pick me up until 1:00 pm, so I had a few hours to kill in the morning-i wasn't going to take the Metro anywhere, for fear of what happened the day before.

I stayed in the breakfast area eating for a while-I talked to a lady named Andrea who is from Argentina but is learning English. She is a travel agent, and has stayed in many five star hotels around the world, and travels often with her kids. She has just come from Bali, Singapore, Thailand and other places, and is staying at the hostel to save money, I guess. Anyway, she took me for a walk around the Dubai Marina area, which is only a 5 minute walk from the hostel but I haven't really explored yet. The marina area is a waterfront promenade with restaurants and stores along side. I learned Andrea has a daughter who is studying in Florence, and that by living in Argentina, and having parents that we're from Italy, she actually has dual citizenship-and everyone in her family will have dual citizenship (and Argentinian and Italian passports).

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I returned back to the hostel to wait for the safari. After about 50 minutes of waiting, I was told the car was downstairs. Myself and 2 others from the hostel got onto the Land Cruiser, picked up two others at another hostel 5 minutes away, and then went through the horrible Dubai traffic to pick a couple up roughly 45 minutes away. So at the end we had 7 folks and the driver pushed in to a Land Cruiser for the hour drive to the desert. After roughly an hour-hour and a half pushed against each other in the Land Cruiser, we came to the entrance to the desert-the driver took us on a course through the desert-driving like a cowboy up and down the sand dunes to show us his abilities driving. It would have been more fun if maybe 5 of us we're in the car vs 8.

After 1/2 an hour of this driving (which seemed more like hours)-we came to a "oasis/camping" spot in the desert, which was a large compound camels, horses, and a large walled-off area with plenty of low-to-the-ground tables, and booths surrounding it selling sand-in-the-glass-with-your-name written, snacks (dinner wasn't being served until 6:30-it was now 5:00), pay-for-photo booths we're you can dress in Arabian costumes, and the like. I went outside for my free camel ride. i was second in line, and took the camel ride (the promised free ride lasted maybe 2 minutes)-you can pay extra for a longer ride. For extra money, I was able to drive a dune buggy or ride a horse through the desert. I always got a picture with a Falcon (which was used for hunting in Arabia).

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After a while, there was a lot of time to kill, so I walked up and down the sand dunes and around the compound. Closer to 7:00 pm, we we're served some fried Indian foods like Samosas and other foods. Then a belly dancer got up and performed for us (there we're several hundred people at the compound, I imagine). Then the main course of all sorts of salads, breads, hummus and other mediocre food. (Chicken was available as well). The food was fine. Then other performers got up-including a couple of guys wearing dressed that lit up, and one breathing fire, and performing other tricks. In other words-typical tourist trap.

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Then we got back in the van and went home.

Posted by DavidPearlman 19:24 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Dubai--Lost in Transit

A few days ago I found my camera broke. This is the second time this happened while travelling. (I could still take pictures but not view through the screen, or focus, or change the settings). So yesterday morning, I set out to take the tram to the metro to the large Mall of the Emirates to look at new cameras (I have a set amount of money for travelling, and i didn't want to spend more money-but I really enjoy photography, and am not the type who wants to use his phone. I had to be back at the hostel at 1:40 pm, as I had a desert safari tour planned-which involves riding a camel, seeing the desert sunset, etc.

So I l left about 9:00 am to go to the mall. It took roughly 1/2 an hour-so I had a cup off coffee from Mcdonalds, and looked in a few stores. The forth store was some large Best-buy type store in the mall, and I was tempted to buy a new camera there-but it was too expensive, and it came with a lens I didn't need-so i went back out to the metro to go back to the hostel. I rode the metro one stop closer to the hotel, and I thought-why don't i get the camera? So I crossed over the steps to the metro in the opposite direction to go back to the mall-and I thought-the other day I was at what I thought was a cheap mall about 15 stops downtown-I can check that mall out-make sure I am on the returning metro by 12:00 pm, and be able to make it back to the hostel by roughly 12:45-plenty of time for the safari tour which would pick me up at 1:40 pm. So that's what I did-only to find that mall had the same types of shops as the Mall of the Emirates-(the exact same stores). So it was 10 to 12:00-I got on the metro back to the hostel, (after waiting about 5 minutes for the train). Everything was working out to make it to the safari. The first sign of trouble was that I lost my metro ticket, and had to buy then.

After standing on the train for a minute (there was no place to sit)-folks who worked for the transit department kept telling everyone to get off the train, and wait for the next train which was behind. So after about 2 minutes, everyone was off the train-the train pulled away, and another train came along perhaps 4 minutes later. Of course-this train was already full-so it was really really crowded when we got on-but still plenty of time for the safari, so I was ok.

The really really crowded train ambled along to the next elevated station, when the announcer, and folks who worked for the transit department once again, told everyone to get off the train. But this time-there was no other train. The instructions we're to go out the exit marked #2-where special buses will be waiting for us. Now i thought sh..t, it was now closer to 12:30-the thought of making it to the safari was looking more and more remote. A whole bunch of us walked through long pathways to the door marked #2-only to hear the announcer say the buses would be waiting at entrance #1-said we all reversed pathway, walked up those long, long, corridors, to the door marked #1. Once getting there-hundreds, (maybe close to a thousand) people we;re waiting for the buses. And there we're no emergency buses-just the standard bus service. So the first bus came along-and all hundreds we're mobbing the bus, trying to get on. The bus would wait a few minutes, more would try to get on. The driver would announce the bus couldn't continue unless people stopped trying to get on-so eventually it pulled way.

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I got on the second bus-or more like-i was shoved by the crowds on to the bus. I was sandwiched at the back. After ten minutes (or what seemed like an hour), the bus driver kept trying to go, but couldn't close the doors because the bus was so full. The bus did go on, but was stuck in traffic, and went inching along when the lights finally turned green and the traffic cleared. I was pushed up against a few Indian guys,one I learned moved here to look for work as an engineer. By 1:00 pm. I sort of figured I wasn't going to make that safari-as i couldn't think of how I would make it back to the hostel-so some lady next to me lent me her phone to call the hostel. (mine only operated via wifi).

After a while of standing, the bus seemed to veer way from the metro path-past a cemetery which was filled with sand as opposed to grass, and then started to go near the path of the metro once again. After what seemed like an hour of standing and being pushed up against these people, I got off at some place called the Oasis. (The Oasis, whatever it was, sounded nice). It turns out it was yet another mall. I had lunch from a Carrefour store or some $2.00 noodles). Although it was along the path of the metro, there was no stop nearby, so I found a bus stop-and rode a double decker bus downtown. After an hour on the bus, (in which I fell asleep), I got off at a stop-went to a neighborhood near the airport, where cheap goods we're sold.I also watched the giant Emirates jets tale off every few minutes. I then found the hop-on hop-off bus, and went to an old neighborhood near the museum, and found a place to buy a camera. i also found the old souk, with places to buy spices, deserts, cheap perfumes, watches, etc. I then sat by the dock, and went to the gold souk, watching people who worked there venture back and fourth.

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Posted by DavidPearlman 19:51 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

The Mosque, Atlantis

Yesterday, I got up really early and set out to go to the Jumiera Mosque. I left the hostel at approximately 7:15 am. (i wanted to catch the hop-on hop-off bus that leaves at 10:00 am). I arrived at the Dubai Mall, where I would catch the hop-on hop-off bus at approximately 8:15-(the bus didn't leave until 9:00, but as I mentioned yesterday, the one and only tour of the Mosque was at 10:00 am and I wanted to catch it). i walked around the mall, although all of the stores in the mall we're closed. At 9:00 am, i caught the bus to the Mosque.

At the mosque, visitors we're served a breakfast of some light type of pancake with cheese, and dates. Also some very light type of coffee was served. (This is traditional). Then, we we're taken from a very plush lounge type area to the outside of the mosque, near a fountain, and we we're taught the traditional Islamic way of ablution. We then entered the mosque, which wasn't particularly fancy-and our tour leader-a white British woman who I am guessing was an Islamic convert-told us about the the five times of daily prayer, how giving to charity was important, and how being fully covered was favorable. She also mentioned how contrary to popular belief, Islam doesn't discriminate against women, but actually places them in high esteem (which I was saw was evident-there is a lot of seating for woman in metro cars and trams in Dubai).

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After about 2 hours-I was tired-so I found a public bus which took me to the metro, and went back to the hostel to take a nap-only to find they removed the sheets and we're making my bed at that point (nothing small-they don't make your bed often in hostels).-so I left. In the elevator on the way down, I met some Chinese folks staying at the hostel.
Chinese Tourist: Where you from?
Me: US
Chinese: Which pat?
Me: Florida
Chinese: What pat?
Me: Fort Lauderdale
Chinese: I know Florida. Which pat
Me: Near Miami
Chinese: They have gun shoot recently-people killed
Me. Yeah-I live near there

I then took the tram to other stops outside, and went to Atlantis, which is on the Palm-the largest man-made island in the world. Atlantis here is similar to Atlantis in the Bahamas. It looks the same, has an Aquadventure theme park-just no casino.

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After that, I got on the hop-on hop-off. One stop was for a free cruise around the Jumeirah palm area. A whole bunch of us got off the bus and went to the boat-We almost weren't let on the boat (because the boat was sold to some other group for a function). A bunch of German tourists from the bus we're angry-and they showed it, so they finally let us on.

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The boat took us all around the harbor, and we got great views of the futuristic skyline.

After an hour and a half of cruising around on the boat-i got back on the hop on hop off bus, which seems to be stuck in traffic. i then went for dinner to a mall, and tried to walk back-but got lost, and ended up taking the tram back to the hostel.

Posted by DavidPearlman 18:58 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Dubai-from the Ethiad to the Great Stunt Show

i started out early once again, looking for the Jumeirah mosque, which was on a different bus tour-still on a hop-on hop-off bus. I hoped this would be a more historic tour, then the more modern one from yesterday, where I saw the world's tallest building.

So I had a long free breakfast at the hostel, where I met a few others-one who was travelling from India and stopping here for a few days (she lived in Virginia), and another who was on spring break from College (he was from New York). After a leisurely breakfast, I once again took the tram to the metro to another mall-which is called the Mall of the Emirates. Here I was to catch another hop-on hop-off bus, which would take me to the Mosque.

I rode the bus for approximately 1/2 an hour, and arrived at the Mosque. Before arriving, the tour guide mentioned that tours are given at 10:00 am every day, and there is no admission after that day. I took that to mean that tours are given STARTING at 10:00 am every day-but as I found out when I got there-it is actually 10:00 am they are given. (it was now about 11:15). So I walked around the property a little bit-and I decided what to do next. As the mosque is near the beach, I went to a beachfront shopping mall, and then walked back towards the hop-on hop-off bus.

I then discovered the Ethiad museum, which was in a beautiful modern building on the side of the road. I went in and the exhibits we're interesting. i saw a film in the auditorium, where i took off my shoes to relax my feel (i was the only one in the Auditorium). I listened to different leaders talk about how the UAE was created, and their feelings, (The UAE was a originally seven different states, or emirates' , including the emirates of Dubai and the emirates of Abu Dhabi) The states used to be a British protectorate, but they united after the British pulled out and they wanted the clout for defense and to deal with their relatively newfound oil reserves. While the speakers we're interesting, I also took a nap there. (the seats we're so soft). I then went out into the exhibit area-I saw exhibits on the leaders, their personal belongings, and an exhibit on the Military of the UAE. Most of the folks in the museum we're Arabs-i think I was the only white non Arab in there.

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After that, I got back on the hop-on hop-off bus, and got off at the Jumeirah Souk, which was modeled after an old fashioned Souk, but was mostly modern stores, anyway, the architecture was interesting, and I got off and took some pictures.

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It was late afternoon. I then got back on the bus, and went back to the Mall of The Emirates. This mall was small compared to the mall of Dubai (only 700 stores). It does have the only ski slope in the desert, complete with melting snow. I was looking for a book on the UAE, and went to Borders in the mall, but couldn't find the book. (yes-Borders still exists in the UAE).

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After that, I wanted to see about upgrading my hop-on hop-off bus ticket to 7 days (from 3 days). The schedule said it would be about 50 AED (roughly 14 $). When I got there, I was told it was 100 AED (closer to $30). I was upset-but the people selling the tickets wouldn't budge (largely immigrants from the Philippines and Pakistan did these lesser paying-service jobs). I wanted to take the bus to the Dubai Mall (where I was yesterday), so I could watch the huge Fountain show which was renowned, but that bus just left, so I missed it. I just caught the next bus-because i didn't know what to do. The bus, which left int he late afternoon, just went to two places (1) Miracle Garden-which was a huge flower show. i learned it was expensive, and I already spent too much money, so I skipped this, and the next place (2) Global Village. I had a free ticket to Global Village, another perk for the hop-on hop-off bus. I didn't have much hope for Global Village-but i was wrong.

Global Village it like what it sounds like, for the most part. Pavilions from countries all over the world, selling different foods and goods. Mostly just yet another attempt at commerce. While walking around was interesting (I had almost 2 hours to kill, as I had to wait for the next Hop-on Hop-off bus to pick me up to bring me back downtown), I saw a car show, and walked around.

I did encounter two interesting things here:

The first was the Great Stunt Show-this was an attempt at American Culture, no doubt. American Style buildings we're in the background-a bank, a bar, etc, and this was a mix between monster truck show, Evil-Knivel style motorcycle rally, and a vague Back-To-The-Future style theme with some invention that allows folks to go back in time. it was rather entertaining:

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And then my all-time favorite from the fair: From the Americas tent-a kiosk selling American style signs (e.g. Never mind the dog-beware of wife)


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It actually was a rather enjoyable evening-I took the Hop-on hop-off bus back to the Mall of the Emirates. I was going to go back to the Dubai Mall to find a book and see the fountains-but I got on the wrong bus-which actually went towards the Marina area, where the hostel is located, so it worked out.

Posted by DavidPearlman 17:58 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

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